Thursday, March 31, 2011

Clarity~An Edgy YA Treat

Clarity is an amazingly well-written debut novel by Kim Harrington. I was immediately drawn into 14 year-old Clarity Fern's mind and world. I finished the book in one day—determined to find out who the murderer of the teenager in Clarity's town was. Another plus in my opinion was that I didn't have it figured out within the first few chapters! There are twists, suspense, romance, even some paranormal characteristics— Clarity's family possess psychic abilities— that would keep any young adult glued to the pages. The story ends with several unanswered questions, suggesting a sequel? I certainly would read more about the struggles and adventures of Clarity and her friends.

I have only two critiques which keep me from unreservedly recommending this book to any young teen reader. There is mild language that would offend some (including my 15 year old who does not curse). There are also a couple of lewd comments I found extremely inappropriate that added nothing to the storyline, and detracted from my enjoyment of the book. However, older teens would most likely enjoy the book with no qualms.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What a Wonder of a Tale

Mine is the Night, by Liz Curtis Higgs is more than a Christian romance set in the Scottish borderlands during the 1700's. I confess that is what first drew me to this novel. I am giddy for all things ancient, Scottish or Irish. I found no disappointment in my expectations here.

But I was delighted and amazed when, as I read the tale, I was reminded of another, dearly familiar one (aye, one of my favorites). The story of Elizabeth Kerr, her mother-in-law, Marjory, and Lord Jack Buchanan, mirror the beautiful tale of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz from the Old Testament.

What makes this reading even more special for me personally, is that very recently, in our creative ministries group at church, I asked our members to dwell on their favorite name for God. I shared that mine is "Redeemer"...and reminded them of the story of Ruth, and the picture it paints of Christ as our kinsman redeemer even today. Since then, more than I can recount, I have been blessed to hear through songs or sayings that very name "Redeemer". I never imagined the joy of choosing a book that would have the same theme! How amazing is our Lord to work out such things ahead of time.

Now, as for a review of the book (the true purpose of this post), I found it well written, and deeply touching. Mrs. Higgs's characters are endearingly realistic, easy to love, even in their flaws. And their consistent manner of choosing the word of the Lord for whatever situation they found themselves in—fear, sorrow, longing, joy—was both an encouragement and a conviction to me. Her description of landscape and use of Scottish vernacular were a delightful addition as well. I found myself wanting to read aloud, just to practice how the lads and lasses might have sounded!

I would without reservation recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian, historical romance. My many thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah Press for providing this book for my honest review.

This book may be purchased beginning March 15th at online sites, including

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Being Made More Like Him

God has been convicting me lately. And since writing my thoughts out sometimes helps me make sense of His message, I hope that truth will speak to you as well.

About a year ago our Sunday School class went through a series on discovering one's spiritual gifts. In the course of that study, we discussed how—though God clearly gives us spiritual gifts that we should work within to best serve him—as we seek to become more like Christ, those latent spiritual attributes may be strengthened.

My gift is teaching. My personality is an introvert and organizer. So my joy comes through sharing the truth with others, through organizing tasks, creating and worshiping through introspection. But I am not gifted in investing emotionally with others.

Fast forward to three weeks ago. Our pastor preached on being committed to serve on the battle ship of the church. He meant that as a Christian, as the Church, every person's role is vital. Too many times people are willing to sit on the sidelines and let others do all the work. He was calling us to service. And the greatest service should be to win souls to Christ.

I was convicted. Service I am good at. My time at church is filled with leadership roles in various capacities. But rarely do I take the time to truly connect with take the risk of an emotional tie that might in the end be painful. As I was sharing this conviction with a friend, I made the statement that I don't like to "get my hands messy with other people's lives".

Last night we had the director's clinic for VBS. The message was making connections through our faith. The powerpoint highlighted the importance of getting to know our teachers in order to meet their needs, so that they are free and prepared to share Christ with the children. The speaker said we have to get out of our comfort zones and do what it takes to touch the lives of those children and families God puts in our path.

Then a lady shared her testimony, and at the end of it she said, "We have to invest in the lives of these children, and their families...and sometimes that's messy. But we have to do it. Christ calls us to that!" I couldn't believe she used the same word I had used when describing what I DON'T like to do...but knew I should!

I shared with the leaders of that clinic my experience and asked them to pray with me that God would help me to better connect with people, and that he would put someone in my path with whom I could invest myself and share his love.

God doesn't wait around when you ask him for a field to harvest! Tonight at children's choir we had two children who had not been there before. At the end of choir we shared prayer requests, as always. The little boy spoke up and asked that we pray for his dad who "was in real trouble and that's why they were with DHR." You can imagine the strength that only comes from Christ that enabled me to make it through that prayer calmly. But now I have two children who I will certainly pray for daily, and who I hope I get the chance to share Christ with.

But God wasn't finished tasking me. During adult choir we practiced a song we had sung awhile back...and our director brought out again. The name of the song is "A Little More Like You." It is a prayer—a question—that, at the end of the day, when all is said and I more like you, Lord? There is even a part that asks God to "help us grieve when others grieve, to laugh when others laugh, and for our neighbors to see Jesus in us each day."

That brings me back to the beginning of this post. So my gift is not personal relationships. But I have Christ living in me. And HE is the author of relationships. THROUGH him, I can love, I can minister, I can witness.

In Corinthians 5:11-21, Paul reminds us that now we have Christ in us, we no longer view others as our old selves. God is making us brand new! He is making us more like Christ. And that love should urge us on to tell others of this grand and glorious treasure.

I hope that you will seek to do so as well. Yes, Christ has given us specific gifts, and it is important to know them so we might fill our role on the battle ship to the best of our ability. But he has called ALL of us to "go and tell the world that Christ is Lord." Please pray with me that we will all feel this urgency, and not miss a chance to share the love of Christ to those around us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just As You Are

I had a moment of clarity this past Sunday.

As some of you know, I am turning 40 this year. I have bemoaned the fact to friends and family alike, at church, work, and on Facebook. I had a mini breakdown (not really, more a moment of over reaction according to my teenage daughter) a couple of weeks ago when told I needed bifocals. My friends have laughed, those older have said, "It only gets better." I remained unconvinced.

But this Sunday, we sang the song that says, "Come, just as you are to worship. Come, just as you before your God." Like the Lord has to sometimes do with me, I felt like he was standing right in front of me, his hand outstretched, indicating the words of the song and saying, "SEE?"

Christ wants me just as I am. Overweight, bifocaled, bad knees, 40 year-old me. This body is not what is important to him. It's my soul. Though my body can lift up hands and heart and voice and eyes unto the heavens in worship, he wants all of me. And he loves me just where I am.

That truth applies to you as well. Christ longs for you, the way a lover longs for his bride. He pursues you with a passion unimaginable and wants to know the depths of your being. And guess what? He doesn't require you to be outwardly perfect, or even inwardly perfect. He just wants your love and obedience. He'll make you brand new.

Just come.